Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Son

Well because I don't think I could improve much on the birth story my husband wrote years ago about our son Oliver's birth I will post it here. I would like to add that in the years since he was born he has grown into a strong handsome young man, but still my little boy. He is very much like his birth, he is fast and hard, and then he is quiet and thoughtful. He still likes a "I want to hold you" and I love holding him.


I wonder how many fathers-to-be get really involved with changing the sheets on the bed while their wives labor alone in the bathroom nearing the birth of their new child. Not many is my guess, but that's exactly what I was working on just before our fourth child, Oliver William, was born in our home.

We had not expected this crazy scenario; the ideal birth we had planned for was to occur in the birthing room at our local hospital with our personally selected midwife. But one of the things you must prepare for is the unexpected. In our case, Dorene's labor came on fast and hard, and by the time she woke me up, she appeared to be in a state of I've come to call "the maternal odyssey," in which her awareness of external reality dims with the strength of her contractions. Her attention was clearly directed inward, her eyes closed and her breathing deep, trying to relax against the hormonal rodeo going on inside her.

When Dorene woke me, at about two a.m., she didn't bother speaking. I was just supposed to figure it out from the non-verbal clues, like a game of charades. That I could do. "You're in labor," I said, still half asleep. But what to do next? She was clearly too far along to be getting dressed, carting out into the car, and being driven to the hospital - and don't forget about the other three, already born children, that would also be coming along. No way. This birth, I knew, was going to happen right here, right now, at home sweet home. And this is where the sheets came into play.

After helping Dorene into the bathroom (she may have whispered the word between contractions) and seated of the toilet, I realized that she was not so out of this world that she forgot about our emergency-protect-the-bed-with-plastic-sheets plan, just in case of a fast labor. This she repeated to me, "did you change the sheets, yet?" For myself, when a baby's coming, I'm not worried about mattress-stain protection, but the fact that she was, meant I had to be as well. Skipping over little mother's wishes would only cause distress.

It seems now almost like there was some kind of bizarre sequence of events that had to happen for the baby to come - contractions, full dilation, sheet change, pushing - because just as I pulled that last corner over I heard Dorene moan a long loud moan that I recognized as a push. I rushed into the bathroom and asked - told - Dorene to scoot forward on the seat and then lean back against the tank. I took a look and sure enough the baby's head was crowning. "Okay, Dorene," I said, "Very gently on the next push. Very gently." Dorene followed my voice, eased out the next contraction, and like a little miracle my new son slipped out warm and watery right into my arms. I looked into his eyes, saw him looking back, and then cradled him over to Dorene, who cried with joy at the sight of him.

We tended to him with love rather than panic or haste, covering him with a towel, wiping at him here and there, clearing a little mucus out of his throat with a rubber bulb.

Sitting there in the smallest room of our house, holding in our arms our new baby son, a secret to the whole world but for us, his parents, it didn't take long for Dorene and me to realize that we had just experienced our ideal birth after

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's A Girl!

Two weeks before my father-in-law passed away they were here visiting. He said to me: “So you think you will have another child?” I said: “I don’t think so; I think Bill wants to stop at five.” He replied, “Babe sure would like another granddaughter.” I said there would be no guarantee that it would be a girl. Now one thing you have to know is my father-in-law wanted us to stop after two, so the fact he was asking for number six was amazing. Several months after he died Bill and talked about having a sixth, I wanted one, he didn’t, so just when I thought no more, Bill changed his mind and really wanted another one.

I soon found out I was pregnant and we were very happy. All the kids wanted a sister and my mother-in-law REALLY wanted a girl. She always said “I am praying it’s a girl.” She also said if it was a girl, she would take us on a shopping spree (after 4 boys I didn’t have much girl stuff left).

We planned on having a VBAC at home. On the morning of Oct. 7 I went into labor, it started off almost backwards. It felt like I was almost in transition, when I knew I wasn’t. I encouraged Bill to go to work and was getting the kids off to school when I felt like I was going to vomit; Eric went running out of the house and yelled at Bill “Mom’s throwing up.” Bill said, “That’s it I am staying home.” I labored slowly most of the day. Late in the afternoon Bill called our midwife to come, I lie down and fell asleep and when I woke up my contractions had pretty much stopped. I walked out to the backyard where Bill was playing with kids and said “Call the midwife and tell her not to come, I am not having this baby today.” Bill told me don’t worry about it and to go rest again, I did but felt like I was disappointing the kids. Soon my contractions picked up again and around 11 p.m. Bill called the midwife, she asked to speak to me and thought I seemed pretty calm so said to call back in a few hours. At midnight she decided to call us back to see things were going and after talking to Bill decided she better drive up from Simi Valley. She arrived around 1 a.m. and I was 8 cm. The kids got tired and decided to go to bed, Alexa said “Wake me up if something happens.” I said “I might be busy.” All but Ian went to bed; Ian just sat in the corner of the room. About an hour later he came up on the bed and put his hands around mine and said “You are doing such a good job mom and I am so proud of you.” So sweet, considering he was an 11 year old boy, at the time.

Bill had music playing, a tape he had made me a few days earlier. We had slowed danced to a Santana song out in the garage, our kids watching and thinking “only our parents would do this.” I remember a Jimi Hendrix song coming on and thinking “I don’t really like Jimi Hendrix.” My midwife checked me and said I was almost complete, but had a little lip and would push it back with the next contraction. The Santana song came on and I felt so much emotion remembering Bill and I dancing a few days before. I had a contraction and my midwife pushed my cervix back and all of the sudden I felt a VERY strong urge to push. My midwife said “Oh you want to push.” I could not stop it. I pushed about 5 minutes. I was lying on my left side and Ian was on my left side and Bill behind me holding my leg. Alanna was posterior and when her head popped out Ian could see her face first. Alexa hearing all the noise came rushing into the bedroom just as she popped out. I remember looking down and seeing Bill and Ian looking at each other and both saying “It’s a girl!” Alexa said, “What?” Ian said, “IT 'S A GIRL!” and she replied, “Yes! We get to go shopping.” It was a little after 3 a.m. Because we didn’t have time to wake the other kids up, Bill went to wake them, they were disappointed they missed the birth, but were excited that it was a girl.

After the kids went back to bed and the midwife left, Bill asked me how I felt after having our sixth child and I said “Young.” I had told Bill if it was a girl I got to call his mom, so later that morning I called and because it was 5 a.m. she knew I must have had the baby. She asked “Did you have the baby?” and I said “Yes” She wanted to know if everything was alright and I said “Yes, she is alright.” She responded, “It’s a girl?” I said yes, she then asked what her name was and I said Alanna Saline, she started to cry, and said “First you give me another grandchild, then it is a girl and then you give her my middle name, I couldn’t have asked for more.”

A few days later she came down and all the girls went shopping, we really enjoyed ourselves.

Alanna is now 10 years old growing too quickly for all of us. I feel sorry for the guy who wants to date her, with 4 overprotective big brothers. She still has the sweet little face when she sleeps.

So glad my father-in-law seemed to know what would happen. Our family is so blessed to have this sweet beautiful young lady in it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Sandy a former student on mine sent this to me not too long ago. I found out it was taken from a book written by Nicole Johnson Many of us mothers feel this way, but in the end our job isn't thankless. So if you as a mother ever wonder is this all worth it? Yes, it is.

The Invisible Mother

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of

response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room

while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on

the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on

the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even

standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me

at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a

pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie

this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of

hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to

ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to

answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm

a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held

books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that

graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared

into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's

going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating

the return of a friend from England .. Janice had just

gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and

on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there,

looking around at the others all put together so well. It

was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was

feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a

beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you

this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me

until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with

admiration for the greatness of what you are building when

no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And

I would discover what would become for me, four

life-changing truths, after which I could pattern m work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals

we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives

for a work they would never see finished. They made great

sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their

building was fueled by their faith that the

eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came

to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw

a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He

was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so

much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered

by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman

replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into

place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me,

'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make

every day, even when no one around you does. No act of

kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no

cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and

smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you

can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction But it

is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for

the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote

to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective

when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people

who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to

work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no

cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there

are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my child to

tell the friend he's bringing home from college for

Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and

bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for

three hours and presses all the linens for the table.'

That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to

myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if

there is anything more to say to his friend, to add,

'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be

seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very

possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we

have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the

world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM!